Morocco - Entry (Ceuta)
No problem. Through in under 20 minutes. Get your passport stamped. Get your 'laissez passer' - a temporary vehicle import document (a bit of green/white paper - hang on to this). Various offers of help, but quite friendly. If you haven't changed money yet, don't take the new road to Tetouan as it's a peage!
Morocco - Exit (Western Sahara)
Again, very straightforward. Took about an hour in total. Hand your passport in at the 'police' window to get your exit stamp - then collect it again when they call your name. While you're waiting, go to 'Douane' to return your 'laissez passer'. They had a brief look inside our car. Then before the gates you have to go to the 'Gendarmerie Royale', where someone writes down your details again - just like all the other checkpoints. After the gates there's no real track, so take care to follow another vehicle as there are mines in the area. Note: it's illegal to take alcohol into Mauritania so either hide it well or get rid of it before the border.
Mauritania - Entry (Nouadhibou)
Again, this took about an hour (possibly they rushed us through because it was the end of the day). Same process in reverse: a man in the first hut writes down all your details - he also asks for a cadeau, but you can decline this. Then get your passport sorted - we paid E10 each for three-day transit visas (this was the only type of visa currently being offered). We got our carnet stamped (E10 - this seems to be compulsory) but most people just buy a 'laissez passer' for about E10. You can buy insurance at the border, but it's expensive (5000 ouguiya/E9 for one week for a 4x4). There's a checkpoint at the end of the road, but just say you're going to buy insurance in Nouadhibou - they're more interested in asking for cadeaux. Camping Baie de Levrier can change money (not the best rates) and organise insurance for you (again, probably not the best rates - 4500 ouguiya for 10 days). There are also lots of local insurance companies, which are probably cheaper.
Mauritania - Exit (Barrage de Diama)
Apparently Rosso is a nightmare so if you have a 4x4 it's best to head 100 km west to Barrage de Diama - the track isn't too bad and runs through a national park so lots of wildlife to see on the way. This is a straightforward, hassle-free border crossing if you are willing to pay - the going rate seems to be E10 per stamp (carnet and passport) and a small community tax and a bridge tax. About E27 in total. Again, these taxes seem to be compulsory - although you could probably refuse the community tax.
Senegal - Entry (Diama)
Again, they ask you for E10 to stamp your passports and another E10 for the carnet. In retrospect we're sure we could have avoided paying for this as people without a car didn't have to pay to get their passports stamped, so it's effectively a 'rich' tax - maybe try getting your stamp first and then arguing about the payment! We had to buy insurance at the border - it's a one-month minimum but, if you buy it with Axa insurance, you can then extend it at the office in Saint Louis and purchase a 'Carte Brune', which allows you to use the insurance for most of West Africa (see Notes & tips). We were glad we bought insurance as there are two checkpoints on the way into town and they asked to see all your documents as well as your fire extinguisher, warning triangles; they also checked our lights were working. Someone we met didn't buy the insurance at the border and got away with it at the checkpoints but only after a lot of hassle and time - he had to pay E10 for not wearing his seatbelt though.
Senegal - Exit (Karang)
Very straightforward and efficient, although it took the guy a while to work out what to do with our carnet. No problems; nothing paid.
The Gambia - Entry (Amdallai)
Passports and carnet no problem. We showed our 'Carte Brune' as insurance and they accepted that even though it's not officially valid for Gambia. Our car was searched twice - once by customs to check for imported goods, then there was a thorough check by the police to check for illegal materials (presumably drugs and weapons). He asked for 10,000 CFA, but we said we don't have to pay because we have the carnet (which he'd already stamped!) and he let us go. So we paid nothing.
Note: There was another police checkpoint about 1 km from the border - I'm not sure if this is legitimate or not, but there was one man in uniform and two with 'identification'. They checked everything - and I mean everything - until they eventually found some sleeping tablets and tried to charge us for this. If you insist on going to the police station they will let you go, but keep calm because they are angry young men who like to show their authority. We met other people who had similar experiences.
Allow at least two hours for the ferry crossing from Barra to Banjul - there's a long queue.
The Gambia - Exit (Basori)/Senegal Entry (Seleti)
Our best border crossing yet - no requests for money, all paperwork carried out quickly and efficiently. The Senegalese formalities are a couple of kilometres down the road, at Seleti; customs first then get your passports stamped about 500 m further on. Despite what the map may show, there is a river between Kartong and the border so you can't cross here with a car.
Senegal - Exit (Kedougou)
The normal place to cross into Mali is Kidira-Kayes. We decided to try to the crossing further south. Exit formalities are carried out in Kedougou - customs is tucked away (turn right opposite the petrol station, go to the end of the road, turn left and it's a few hundred metres on your left). The police is back on the main road. Both very friendly and straightforward - no money asked for.
Note: the border is unmanned and marked by the Faleme River - expect to be mobbed by children asking for presents. The river was about 1 m deep and 75 m wide when we crossed and apparently this was low! Make sure you ask around locally to find out how much rain there's been + always wade across the river first to check it for yourself.
Mali - Entry (Keneiba)
Get your passport and carnet stamped in Keneiba, easy and straightforward - they didn't even ask to see our visa.
Mali - Exit (Koro)
No problems, stamped out quickly and efficiently. Had to show our yellow fever vaccination certificate. It's a about 25 km until Thiou in Burkina where you do the entry formalities.
Burkina Faso - Entry (Thiou)
No problems, although the guy wanted 3500 CFA to stamp our carnet because it was 'out of hours' (12-3pm) - we waited until 3pm as it was only 20 minutes. Got a seven-day transit visa no problem.
Burkina Faso - Exit (Guelwongo)
Douanes first, then police 1 km down the road. No problems, very efficient and friendly.
Ghana - Entry (Namoo)
We'd heard that they give you hassle for having a right hand drive car, but nobody seemed to notice. All paperwork carried out reasonably quickly.
Ghana - Exit (Aflao)
Our most hectic border so far, but at least it doesn't shut for lunch. Very hot and confusing. Lots of offers of help, but you don't really need it. Go round the back of the big blue building and through the gate (towards the banks) to the Long Room to get your carnet stamped. They're supposed to give you a bit of white paper which you give to the people at the gate, but we didn't need it. Passports are stamped in the office by the exit gate where you fill out a disembarkation form.
Togo - Entry (Lome)
You can get a seven-day transit visa at the Lome border only (if coming from Ghana); do this first. We were asked for a present by the immigration guy (but didn't give one). You then have to register your car with the police, who give you another bit of white paper which you give to the guys on the gate. Our carnet was processed very quickly and efficiently. Took about an hour in total.
Togo - Exit (Aneho)
Much quieter and less hectic than the Lome crossing. Quick and efficient.
Benin - Entry (Grand Popo)
Straightforward. Two-day transit visa issued at the border. Took a while to get the carnet stamped as the guy in the office was waiting for his boss - eventually he did it himself. No bribes asked for. Took about 50 minutes in total.
Benin - Exit (Ketou)
Note that you have to get your carnet stamped at Ketou, the last main town before the border. Customs is on the main road. Immigration is at the border.
Nigeria - Entry (Alagbe/Lara)
The customs and immigration posts are really hard to find - GPS N 07 25 27.5/E 02 44 47.8, so don't go too far from the border or you'll be sent back. People are friendly and helpful but will tell you to just 'go straight' when actually it's left, left again, right and then straight! The immigration guy was very chatty and took a long time looking through our passports... then asked for his present. The customs guy was very efficient and didn't ask for anything - he didn't even ask to see the vehicle. Took about two hours in total. Note: groups that cross into Nigeria from Nikki in the north of Benin seem to avoid the worst of the police. The north and east of the country seems to be a lot more chilled out.
Nigeria - Exit (Mfum, near Ikom)
There were a couple of police checkpoints towards the border, as expected. Only one of them gave us hassle by trying to claim that we'd been given the wrong stamp on the way in (a 'visitor' stamp rather than a 'transit' stamp). Once at the border everything was fine - no bribes asked for. Customs first, then immigration, then police registration. Didn't even get asked for money to cross the bridge.
Cameroon - Entry (Ekok)
Very friendly and efficient - customs and immigration are in the same building. There is a money-changer at the border - he gives terrible rates at first, but if you walk away you should get a decent rate (better than those in town). Note: the road from Ikom to Mamfe is notorious. It was dry when we drove through and took about three hours to drive 80 km - there are huge bombholes and ruts - but with handy cut-rounds and no problem for a Land Rover. In the wet it would be quite tricky - we've heard stories of people taking two days to do this road, and others saying that they were asked to pay for each deviation they used.
Cameroon - Exit (Amban)
Very straightforward. The usual: customs - immigration - police, then drive across the bridge (no charge) to Gabon.
Gabon - Entry (Bitam)
The same in reverse, except at the police checkpoint on the other side of the bridge you have to fill in a form to take to immigration. Customs is just up the hill (you can drive round the first police checkpoint). Immigration is in Bitam - opposite the Shell garage. Note: you need a photocopy of your passport before they'll stamp you in.
Gabon - Exit (Lekoni)
The road to Lekoni is good. Customs is just before Lekoni, there was no-one there but the customs guy lives in the house behind the building. Immigration is in Lekoni. From Lekoni the road turns into a series of sandy tracks. After the first building we were told to just 'keep right' until we crossed over the border. The border itself is unmanned, but they are in the process of buiding a tar road.
Congo - Entry (Mbei/Lekety)
Immigration is at tiny village of Mbei in a little bamboo hut. They hinted at a cadeau but no problems when we didn't give them anything. 100 m down the road on the right you have to register with the police. Customs is at Lekety - there is a 2000 CFA tax, which seems unavoidable. The man went to great lengths to show us that he has to send the money off to the government and that it doesn't go into his pocket. The piste from border the goes via Edjouga, Okoyo, Boundji, Obouya. The main road south from Obouya is paved paved all the way to Brazzavile.
Congo - Exit (Brazzaville)
A bit confusing as it involves a ferry crossing. You have to pay a 'harbour tax' (6 tickets x 1800 CFA = 10,800 CFA) to enter the port. Get your passport stamped at immigration. Get your carnet stamped at customs, then register with the police. The police check your vehicle and counter-sign the carnet and give you a 'tax receipt'; you need this to buy your ferry 'receipts'. After you have bought your receipts you take them to the ticket office where they issue your tickets. You then have to register your tickets in the office next door. Allow plenty of time!
There are two ferries, one at Kinshasa, one at Brazzaville. Both leave at 10 am (Monday to Saturday) and take about one hour. If the water is low you have to wait for the Kinshasa ferry, which arrives at 11 am and leaves at 12pm. You can't buy tickets for the Kinshasa ferry until the Brazzaville ferry has left. There is an afternoon ferry at 3pm. Ferry prices are: car + driver 25,000 CFA; passenger 6500 CFA.
Note: they tried to charge us an extra 6500 CFA for our 'baggage' in the car but they were just trying it on; when we refused to pay there was no problem. We have also heard that sometimes the police ask for 2000 CFA, but you shouldn't have to pay this either.
DR Congo - Entry (Kinshasa)
Hectic when you arrive with lots of money-changers etc. A policeman takes your passport and carnet de passage and gets it filled out for you; no money asked for.
DR Congo - Exit (Matadi)
A bit slow, as the guy painstakingly writes all your details down in a log book before you can get your passport stamped. Carnet was fine. No problems but we were asked for a 'present', which we declined. Took about 30 minutes.
Angola - Entry (Noqui)
Very quick and efficient - 10 minutes. Robin did the carnet while I filled out the tourist forms.
Angola - Exit (Namacunde/Santa Clara)
Border is busy with lots of Angolans crossing to buy cheap Nambian goods. Immigration is outside the gates on the right. They looked at our passports long and hard to try and find a way to charge us, but we hadn't outstayed our five-day tranist visa. It took four officials to agree that United Kingdom/Great Britain is the same as England and that in fact we don't need a visa for Nambia. Customs is through the gates - took a while to find someone to sign it, but no problems. Note: we know other people that outstayed their transit visa by three days and managed to talk their way out of the US$100 a day fine.
Nambia - Entry (Oshikango)
Immigration, customs and road tax are all in the same building. Very civilised. Collect one of the white forms form the front desk then join the queue. Note: each person has to queue up with their own passport. Also note that you have to buy the 'cross border permit' certificate, which costs N$160 per car but includes 3rd party insurance. Seems a bit of a rip, but apparently you get fined if the police find you don't have one. You also have to hand it in when you cross back out of the country. There is a bank to change money just up the road from the border post.
Namibia - Exit (Buitepos)
Easy crossing. We were asked for our cross border permit before we were allowed through the gates. You can also apply for a tax refund here for any goods that you've bought in Namibia - you need to keep the receipt and show the goods are unused (although we managed to claim on our shock absorbers even though they were already on the car).
Note: the SADC (Southern African Development Countries) have a joint customs agreement, so if travelling with a carnet you only need to produce this when crossing through the first and last borders to SADC countries. SADC is made up of Namibia, Botswana, South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland.
Botswana - Entry (Manuno)
- Cross border permit costs 100 Rand/70 Pula and includes road tax and third party insurance.
Botswana - Exit (Martin's Drift)
- We didn't have to hand in our cross border permit.
South Africa - Entry (Groblersbrug)
- Issued a free 90-day visa on arrival. Third party car insurance is included in fuel tax.
South Africa - Exit (Cape Town)
- Entering and exiting Swaziland and Lesotho were very straightforward.
- We shipped our landie back to England from Cape Town and used a shipping agent called Chris King, who works for M.O.L. It cost us E1600 for a 20-ft container. Details...